23rd January, 2014
A Nigerian court in the northern state of Bauchi adjourned abruptly hearing a case of sodomy on Wednesday after a mob hauled missiles at the suspects.
The stoning began after the presiding officer at the Bauchi Area Court 4, Malam El-Yakub Aliyu, finished listening to the plaintiff and the defence lawyers, and was about to close the session.
The court had heard the submissions of the plaintiff’s counsel, Mr Dayyabu Ayuba, who objected to the bail application made by the defence counsel for one of the suspects, Ibrahim Marafa of Nasarawa quarters.
Ayuba argued that the case against Marafa was too serious to be granted bail, adding that even for his own safety, the court should refuse the application.
However, the defence lawyer, Mr Kamdi Musa, cited the 1999 Constitution as amended and the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) to buttress his prayers, adding that Musa would not jump bail as a family man.
Aliyu, however, refused the application, saying the sections cited by Musa were only applicable if there was no provision on the issue in the Shari’a law.
He also asked if the two other suspects, Usman Sabo and Hafiz Abubakar both of Bakin Kura quarters, were represented by counsel, but they said no.
A witness in the case, Dalhatu Gambo, 35, a carpenter at Bakin Kura quarters, told the court that residents of the area were informed that the duo were practising sodomy in a private house.
During cross examination by the presiding officer, Gambo said he only heard about their involvement in the act but did not actually catch them in the act.
He said, however, that he once saw both suspects in the house with one of them improperly dressed. The evidence was thrown out by the court.
The mob started stoning the suspects while they were being returned to prison custody when the court adjourned sitting on the case.
However, the police were invited to control the situation.
The seven suspects were detained in the wake of the promulgation but are being tried under Islamic law, which runs parallel to state and federal justice systems in northern states.
The offence in the north carries the death penalty, although it is rarely, if ever, carried out.
Last week, the same court ordered a man convicted of breaking Islamic law on homosexuality to be whipped 20 times in public and fined 5,000 naira ($30).
The seven men at the latest hearing on Wednesday included a school principal, who was one of five who appeared in court earlier this month accused of belonging to a gay club.
Four of the men pleaded guilty while the headteacher denied the charge.
The judge said that despite their guilty plea, it would be a “travesty of justice” to convict the four for an offence committed four years ago “and to which they had repented”, Mohammed added.
The Sharia Commission, which files charges, was ordered to review the cases and if no fresh accusations came to light, they should be released.
Their cases were adjourned until January 27.
.Story updated Thursday at 3.40pm